In the 1976 movie Network, actor Peter Finch, who played the part of Howard Beale, a frustrated newsman, belted out the immortal words, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!” Those words pretty much sum up the Occupy Wall Street Movement. People are sick and tired of corporate greed at the expense of the 99%. Not surprisingly, nursing organizations are speaking out against Wall Street, and their members are marching in the streets on behalf of the American public.
Well, almost every nursing organization is speaking out against corporate greed. I wanted to know more about the Occupy Wall Street Movement, so I googled the words “occupy” and “nursing,” and the ANA was woefully missing from the list of nursing organizations that are taking part in nationwide protest marches. Thousands of nurses represented by the California Nurses Association and National Nurses United have staged walkouts, and nurses represented by SEIU have gone to jail for refusing to abandon a first aid station during protests in Chicago. It’s not that the ANA has been inactive. Instead of doing something productive for the public, they’ve been busy ousting the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) from their ranks for “dual unionism.” The ANA alleges that leaders of a competing union—the Massachusetts Nurses Association—are in control of NYSNA’s operations. The NYSNA responded by saying that the ANA’s claim of impropriety is baseless, and that the NYSNA is being managed on a temporary basis by the executive director of the MNA, based on her experience in strengthening and revitalizing that labor organization. The NYSNA membership reached out to another organization for help because the ANA was ignoring their needs.
The timing of this expulsion leads to an important question: Why is the ANA choosing to undercut one of its own state nursing associations instead of using its resources to fight Wall Street corruption? Is the ANA ignoring corporate greed because it is more interested in maintaining its power within the nursing community? The ANA is losing its clout as more state nursing associations cut their ties with the national office and join forces with other organizations. I’d like to see the ANA focus on more important issues and join forces with the California Nurses Association, National Nurses United, and the SEIU to promote economic justice. Failure to do so will have long term consequences for the ANA.